Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saturday’s fire that heavily damaged Strawberry Vale Elementary.(Photo courtesy Tamara Pillipow)

Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saturday’s fire that heavily damaged Strawberry Vale Elementary.(Photo courtesy Tamara Pillipow)

Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saanich school fire

Saturday morning fire damaged roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary

Portions of a Saanich elementary school may not reopen for use until after the official start of school following a Saturday fire likely caused by faulty janitorial equipment.

“Damage is extensive, costs will be extensive and depending on the school district’s [plan], it will certainly put that portion of the building out of use for sometime, may be into the start of the school year,” said Dan Wood, deputy fire chief with the Saanich Fire Department Sunday afternoon, when asked about the investigation into the fire that tore through the roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary.

The fire started Saturday morning with the primary damage in the school’s roof area, along with some smoke and water damage to the entry area of the building, said Wood.

While Wood could not put a final value on the damage, the investigation into the fire points towards the failure of a charging station for a mobile vacuum as the likely cause.

RELATED: UPDATED: Saanich firefighters investigate early morning fire at elementary school

“It was a spare battery being charged in the charging station,” he said. Either the battery failed or the charging station failed, he added. “That hasn’t been determined yet, but that was the likely cause of the fire. It subsequently burned some combustible material on the wall. That then carried up the wall and activated the fire sprinklers.”

But part of the fire made it past the sprinkler system, because of roof’s open-concept architecture, he said. “It [the roof area] is mostly left open and it was all combustible material. That is where he took off and burned through the roof area.”

It is not clear how many other pieces of comparable equipment the school uses. “Likely the school district is looking into that now,” he said. “They [school board officials] were on scene as well early in the morning. I’m sure they will be doing a full review of their equipment or any of their electrical appliances they are currently using in the school and making sure that fire suppression systems are tested and in full operation.”

Wood is also encouraging individuals to check any of their personal electrical equipment as lithium batteries have a history of over-heating, depending on the manufacturer.

Wood said the fire could have been a lot worse, given the time, as crews responded just after 4 a.m. “It was just fortunate that there were some passerbys that were noticing the heavy flames coming from the roof out of the skylight and informed the department,” he said.

Crews arrived within five minutes, he added. Three engines, a ladder and a rescue vehicle with a total of 18 firefighters responded, he said. “We did a good job,” he said.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Work is progressing on the new student housing building at the University of Victoria. The building will be home to 398 students when complete in September 2022. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
VIDEO: Mass timber installation begins at UVic student housing project

Green technology plays key role in building that will be home to 398 University of Victoria students

Stanley Fischer (right) died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. Forty years later, his family is questioning his cause of death. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)
Family wants investigation into man’s 1981 death while in Victoria police custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found hanging in his jail cell

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

Saanich police detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault that occurred near Glanford Park on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020 and have shared an artist’s rendering of the individual. (Image via Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police release sketch of suspect sought in December sexual assault

Anyone with information asked to contact detectives, Crime Stoppers

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read